Give a Star a Star Speech
Actors will admit it, if you ask: the first time they read a script, some part of them is scanning it for a great speech they can deliver.
A star speech.
A speech that says, “This is my movie (or my book).”
It’s our job as writers, yours and mine, to give that star a star speech.
A star speech can be long.
I believe in the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curveball, high fiber, good Scotch … I believe that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there should be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.”
It can be a soliloquy.
To be or not to be, etc. etc.
A star speech can also be short.
“Go ahead, make my day.”
“Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
A star speech doesn’t even have to be spoken by the star.
“You run away once, you got yourself one set of chains. You run away twice, you got yourself two sets. You ain’t gonna need no third set, ’cause you gonna get your mind right.”
“I’ll have what she’s having.”
But a star speech has to be memorable. It has to articulate the star’s point of view/philosophy/dilemma. It has to be a line or lines that only the central character of the book or movie (or a supporting character referring to that central character) can legitimately deliver.
“What a dump.”
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
I know, I know. It ain’t easy to deliver lines like these on demand. I’ll bet the writers on Sudden Impact filled page after yellow page with candidates, answering Clint Eastwood’s directive, “Gimme a line people are gonna remember.” (Or, who knows, maybe Make my day appeared in the script organically.)
In any event, we want that line.
Our star wants it.
The audience/readers want it.
“She’s my sister. She’s my daughter … ”
“Greed is good.”
“Always Be Closing.”
“We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
Oh, did I mention? Every one of these lines and speeches is on-theme.